Friday, November 4, 2016

Too much information?

I received a great reader question, and I’m sorry, I did not save the name of the sender:

‘I think my biggest barrier to leading a chic life is being inundated with too much information.  Which diet, which skincare product, which exercise, what habits.  I wish someone would come up with a top 10 for leading a chic life because there is so much information out there that I don't know what to focus on!’

I can totally identify with this!  Sometimes it feels like I am squirrelling all this information away, in my mind, on my computer, in my clear-files and all over the place really.  Then, do I ever take it in, or am I just gathering data?

I have become a lot better about this though, and I think the main thing it all comes down to is knowing that I already know everything I need to know inside – and you do too.  Having this thought in mind helps with that panicky feeling that comes up when you start trying to sift through all the information you’ve come across to see what you need to take in and what you can let go by.

With anything we want to find out available at the click of a button today, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the choices available to us.  But stop and think to yourself ‘what is good for me?’ ‘what would I like to do’ and ‘what feels right to me’.

These days I stop myself when I think ‘I should do that’ and now think ‘what do I want to do’.  Of course, I still have to go to work and honour commitments like that, but in my free time I can please myself.  Even with little things, like thinking I ‘should’ read that book because it’s due back at the library soon (even though I’m not in the mood for it), it feels so deliciously rebellious to read something else entirely.

Or choosing to wash the sheets tomorrow instead of today.  I usually wash them the same day I change the bed, but if I’ve been out and busy, what difference is one day going to make?  It’s only when I used to put them off and put them off and then find it was the day before sheet changing day and they were still in the hamper… and we do have a third set but then I’d have piles of sheets to wash.

But back to the information quandry of our chic reader.  My first thought is to come up with your own top 10 for a chic life.  Note down ideas you want to try and stuff that’s worked well for you.  Diet-wise, when I tried strict South Beach (no carb, I think?) many years ago when it first came out, I found myself weak and dizzy on the first day so I abandoned it, guilt-free and not saying I’d failed another diet.

But these days, I like being low-carb-ish, it just feels lighter and more nutritious.  So I know that works for me.  I know now that I enjoy using inexpensive mass-market skincare and cosmetics.  I love to try new brands and products.  I tried going high-end and sticking with one type, but I got bored plus I don’t think my skin looked any better.

Make all this your work of a lifetime, working out what works for you, custom-tailoring all your choices to suit your lifestyle, your wallet, your values.

Instead of thinking ‘I don’t know what to focus on’, change your thought to ‘I am finding out what suits me’.

It’s finding that balance between being too rigid – only sticking to one thing forever – to too loose (‘I don’t know what to focus on’).  Sometimes I feel like I am being flaky because I change my mind fairly regularly on things I like and don’t like, but it feels better (and more true for me) to know that I am following the breadcrumbs along the path to find out more about myself and enjoy my life.

After all, wouldn’t it be boring if we never changed?  Never grew?  Imagine if you ate the same foods as twenty years ago, wore the same clothes, same perfume.  I do feel like I haven’t changed that much, but when I see an old photo (sometimes not even that old) or read an old journal entry, I’ve changed heaps!  And that is a good thing I think, that I haven’t noticed day to day, it mean the evolution is gradual, plus it’s there.  It’s still fluid and consistent, not non-existent or at a jerky speed.

So let’s look upon all those choices as opportunities to evaluate and choose what is right for us.  As I said at the beginning of this post, we do know inside, it’s just that often-times we are too busy to notice.  And I say all this as much to myself as I am to you, because I am also someone who loves to take in information and learn new things and every so often find myself full up and fed up, saying ‘Stop! Stop with the information!’

That’s when I know it’s time for a rest, time to stop Googling, time to start opening my journal instead and asking questions of myself.  There are also different times too – you will happily be going along absorbing everything you find, and then you instinctively know it’s time to pull back and listen to yourself.

Does this ring true for you too?  Do you feel like a crazy person sometimes with all the words in your head?  Is it must me then?  I’ll say one thing though, life is never boring when you have an inquisitive mind.


PS.  My newest book came out this week!  'How to be Chic in the Winter: Living slim, happy and stylish during the cold season' is now available in Paperback and on Kindle.  You can see it here.

PPS.  Have you see my latest video yet?  I recorded it on Monday and it is on YouTube below:


  1. Hi Fiona! I just finished watching your YouTube about using your senses. I just loved it. I am curious about what fragrances you are naturally drawn to. What do you enjoy wearing during the day? I am looking for a signature fragrance but most often have to look online (tricky), so I was hoping for a little direction. What fragrance do you enjoy for sleep? Any emollient lotions you recommend? I find your blog to be so calming and centering. Thank you for all you do!

    1. Hi Margi! I use fragrance as a kind of comfort, so I am drawn to soft, sweet, enveloping, gourmand perfumes. I do like fresh, non-sweet smells too; they all play their part.

      For day, I love Estee Lauder Pleasures, and quite a few Avon ones such as Femme and Today. I enjoy celebrity fragrances too and have perfumes from Kim Kardashian, Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson!

      The Fragrantica website ( taught me not to be a snob and to take each perfume at their face value instead of being influenced good or bad by the celebrity fronting them. Some of my favourite buys have been ordered blind online because of Fragrantica. I have had very few misses, only one or two, and they are now room sprays :)

      I couldn't have a signature fragrance because I love the variety and trying new things, but I do think I have a signature genre. I'm sure it will change over time too.

      At night I like to put on Jovan White Musk, Gloria Vanderbilt (in the mauve box with a swan on it) or Britney's Intimate Fantasy.

      I love shea butter lotions and creams for night time (neck, decolletage, hands, sometimes elbows and feet). Currently I have Eco Store body butter (from New Zealand but you may be able to get it overseas), Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Intensive Moisturizing Body Treatment (a luxurious gift from my mum) and Nubian Heritage Body Lotion from iHerb is very hydrating and rich too. What I love about all of these products is that they feel rich but there is not a greasy film.

  2. Hi Fiona. You were right on by telling your reader about finding out what suits her. Carbon-copying someone you think is chic wont work. It wont be authentic, which isn't chic. I like to get ideas (especially from you) and tweak them for myself. I hope your post helps. Thanks!

  3. Hi Carla, oh no, I hope I wasn't too bossy :)

    I think we all like to be inspired by others, I certainly do, and we can then filter it to suit us. It's when you also take the time to figure out what YOU like that it becomes easier to filter.

    But we all go through stages of taking on stuff that ultimately isn't us, that is all part of the learning experience.

  4. It's a case of information overload, isn't it? We are truly bombarded with information from every type of media, and it's no longer a pleasure to see yet another advert for yet another face cream that will have the essense of youth in it, or some made-up name which is supposed to blind us with science (as we're only women, don't ya know and we won't know the difference between cod-science and the real thing!) or the next perfume which will transform our lives if only we wear it. All total nonsense of course. I think the best thing is not to take any of the information seriously and at the same time, not to get stuck in a rut. Even at my great age I went for a make up session in a dept store, just to make sure I wasn't applying my make up rut-style, as a lot of elderly ladies do. I wasn't transformed into a raving beauty 30 years by junior, but I did look elegant and was shown a new and interesting way of applying some eye make up.
    As for perfume, I have several favourites which I return to again and again, and yet some new ones are also creeping in, especially the unusual fragrances of Miller Harris - they are not heavy and cloying as some are. I can't bear sickly sweet perfumes, a lot of which smell of vanilla or strawberries - who wants to smell like a cake shop? So I'd say just keep an open mind but don't take all the information too seriously.
    Margaret P

    1. 'keep an open mind but don't take all the information too seriously' - wisely said, Margaret, and I think it comes down to that.

      Yes, expensive face creams have pricier ingredients, but there IS a lot of smoke and mirrors and being made to feel like you are neglecting your skin for the sake of 'a few' (more than a few) dollars.

      You will notice an advert for skin cream says 'reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles' instead of 'reduces fine lines and wrinkles'. Legally I don't think they can say the second one, because then it becomes a medical claim. 'reducing the appearance' means nothing.

      And all those pseudo-scientific claims are quite amusing to read :)

  5. I think you gave a really great answer to the inquiry. I just have some thoughts to add. If it's French chic that inspires, paring down options of anything could be a way to achieve that je ne sais quoi. Think of the capsule wardrobe and home size. Also, I am what Gretchen Rubin would call a "finisher." Of the MBTI, I am an INFJ. J stands for judgmental. So these two things mean that I am decisive and prefer things to be settled and done. Even though there is a lot of information out there and you're right, you should evolve, I enjoy deciding on my "signature" or go to items, habits, events, activities, etc. I imagine it might be more difficult for someone who naturally enjoys options and appreciates the journey over the destination. It would be a challenge to overcome. When you are authentic and truly living the way you desire, then you are comfortable and content. This comfort shines, as chic, really. Writing on style evolution today on the blog The Simply Luxurious Life, Shannon brilliantly writes, "It’s almost as if we have to experiment, try out different ‘personalities’ and eliminate what we are curious about but doesn’t really work for us before we can settle comfortably into our own unique signature style." In your books, I believe you say to focus on one thing at a time, before moving on. Too many options can certainly overwhelm a person, especially into not making a decision at all. I think starting is always a hard part, if not the hardest, in anything one does. The best of luck to your reader!

    1. True, Michelle, we are all different in how much variety we like. For some, too litter is boring, for others, too much is over-stimulating. We all fall somewhere along the spectrum and it's up to us to work out where we are happiest.

      Focusing on one thing feels most manageable, and I have to remind myself of that often :)

  6. It comes down to balance...always.
    I find that this is much easier since I retired because when I was working I had so many things that I needed to attend to quickly...
    These days I have a minimum wardrobe, less money, fewer responsibilities, more time to exercise, cook, read and knit...
    If I were to go back to work I would take those lessons that I have learned and start by paring down and keep life much simpler...

    1. Your comment made me start thinking, Leslie. When we have sold our business, which is imminent, I will have the very real possibility of slowing down and living life in a paced out manner. I am looking forward to this so much! I've been working for almost thirty years and I think it's time I took a break now :)

  7. Well said 'Hostess of the humble bungalow' (love your blog too).

    I have always enjoyed shopping and reading magazines, online, etc., for clothes, skin care, etc., but over the last few years have been overwhelmed by the choice and almost constant 'newness' that seems to be required these days.

    'The penny dropped' as they say only this year, and I have given up trying to keep up. I have gone back to simple skin care without nasty chemicals (Weleda which I used years and years ago) BareMinerals makeup, a simple wardrobe, and I am continually trying to simplify every area of my life.

    I am retired now and feel utterly stupid when I think how much money I have wasted in the past - I must have spent a king's ransom on foundation alone over the years, and how could I have spent 80 euros on a face mask for goodness sake!!! That said, it was enjoyable at the time and at least I never got into debt because of it!

    I continue to enjoy reading about clothes but no longer 'want want want' and from now on will only pick really special things and one or two a season.

    There must be a backlash to all this needless consumption sometime? I could weep when I think of the state of much of the world and then read, for example, of Victoria Beckham owning £1.5 million worth of Hermes handbags - and have you ever seen her smile?!

    1. Hi Julia, I think we all could look back at what we have spent money on and regret it, I certainly have had my moments, but like you say, you enjoyed it at the time and didn't go into debt for your fancy face mask :)

      I know for me when I was younger, it was exciting to be able to buy stuff when I started earning my own money, and that builds up and up, and then you get to a point where you realise accumulating things doesn't make you happy, and that's when many of us start our simplicity journey. I'm sure it's all a completely normal cycle of life!

      When all the new stuff bombarding you does get overwhelming, it's such a lovely feeling to know that you can step off the treadmill at any time - even if it's temporary - and just. do. nothing. Breath out... aaaah :)

    2. Hi Fiona and Julia, I'm also discovering this. For me the catalyst was allergies to practically all brands of makeup with the exception of Revlon Super Lustrous lipstick (the perfect lipstick for me) and Avon. I was very luck in that I could donate a bunch of new unexpired cosmetics to women in need - hope they will enjoy these. Meanwhile I am sticking with those brands and learning not to buy something as it is 'new'. There is still plenty of variety for me there and I am also enjoying wearing my classic clothes and not having to constantly keep buying new things. Please keep up the great work on your blog Fiona.

  8. Very good points ypu make here. In N era innundated with info, I sometimes find relief just going back to what my mother or grandmother did, and if possible, use their simple approach. We live in a more demanding era, and though it is necessary to search for information, it is sometimes good to hearken back to the old ways, knowing thst some of our ancestors had lovely hair, skin (and possibly not as much need for makeup and hair prodiucts and long lists of things to do) and adopt it as much as we can, while still having updated information. Without a memory of how previous generstions coped, we may feel overwhelmed.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Lydia. I love to do this too and it feels wonderful, like a relief! Simplicity is magical :)

  9. Sometimes I feel like I have the opposite problem. I'm picky by nature so when I find something that I like (food, clothing styles, daily routines), I'll rarely stray from them. If I read a piece of information that I feel excited and inspired by, I'll implement it into my life. Other times I know it's just not for me. I love new information but I don't easily change my initial decisions. I guess I like feeling that things are "set" and then I don't have to worry about them anymore. Maybe it's boring, maybe it helps in cultivating a signature (life) style. I'm not sure :)

    1. The most important thing in how you live is - does it feel good to do it that way? If you feel empowered with your strong choices, there's your answer. Many times I know straight away something is not for me, too :)

  10. The mic works great!!!!! Coming through much, much, better. Thank you!!!!! I really like this video contents growing up with all boys makes me feel a bit better. :)

    1. Yay, I'm so glad! I will keep doing it that way. Thanks so much for letting me know you couldn't hear my videos well.

      My aunty had five sons, and she is one of the most feminine people I know. She didn't let all the testosterone in her house stop her from enjoying the feminine side of life :)


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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